244 VEBDICT OX IXDIA Which brings us to what is really the paramount Indian^ economic problem — the condition of agriculture* We have seen that nine out of every ten Indians live an entirely rural life and, of these, eight are directly employed in agriculture. However rapid may be India's industrial development it is obvious that for many years to come it must remain primarily an agricultural country, so that every progressive scheme must begin with the land. You must plan for the peasant or you might as well not plan at all, for until you have raised his purchasing power you will only be building castles in the air. Of course most of the planners, particularly the British planners, arc building castles in the air. with enviable rapidity and elan, merely because as usual they refuse to acquaint themselves with the facts. The India of fact is, indeed, precisely the opposite of the India of fancy — of most rneiVs fancy, that is to say, including Milton's when he wrote of 'the wealth of Ormus and of Ind/ They think of her as a country with an almost inexhaustible supply of land ; actually she is cramped and overcrowded. Th^, think of this land as stocked with an equally inexhaustible supply of natural wealth ; in reality nearly a third of it is useless waste and there are numerous grave deficiencies, for instance in coal.1 This rich lush land of the popular imagination, in terms of cash, is worth on an average only 56 rupees an acre, which is a quarter of the English value and a third of the Japanese. Whose fault is this ? It is certainly not entirely Britain's ; but equally certainly it is not entirely India's. The great majority of Indian agriculturists are still living in terms of the middle ages, apparently in total ignorance of the simplest rules which have become second nature to worker^, on the soil, in most other countries. Their tools are antediluvian : they know nothing of the rotation of crops ; and the prime need of the Indian soil — fertilizers — goes up, literally, in smoke. Cow dung, which is in many ways the richest of all natural manures 1 Fantastic estimates of India's 'potential1 coal supply are often made, appear to be mostly wishful thinking. JU the moment India produces barely one-tenth of the coal produced in Britain.